Holidays in England

Seaside Adventures

Ilfracombe was another of my favorite places to go. We always managed to be there in the off-season, usually April to early May. That meant we had the beaches to ourselves and the sheep and cattle for company on our rambles.
I can remember waking to the cries of the seagulls as they followed the fishing boats into port, and the thrill of anticipation for the adventures to come that day.
The B&B would pack a lunch for us and we would head out on foot, sometimes over the Torrs.
The Torrs, also known as the Seven Hills lie along the southwestern coast of Devon. In the 1880’s, to encourage recreation, a set of zig-zagging coastal paths with spectacular views of hills and sea were laid out, linking Ilfracombe with Morthoe and Woolacombe beach.
The zig-zag path up the cliff from Illfracomb
From the top of Torrs Walk the ocean view
and the hill view
A "Kissing Gate" leads to a field full of cattle.
Leaving Lee Bay and climbing up the hill again.
Joining the paved road above Mortehoe.>
About half way along is a hamlet called Lee Bay. Among its charms is an ancient thatched cottage called the Old Maid’s Cottage. A vist to it takes one back in time – way back – some three hundred years!
The little inlet is floored with corrugated rocks covered in places by pebbles and filled with tidal pools. Starfish and sea urchins and snails and shells of all shapes and colors, plus tiny fish filled the pools and could have made for hours of study.
Lee Bay
Even though I was hungry by then, it was hard to leave the pools and eat the lunch prepared for us.
After lunch we continued our hike to Woolacombe Bay. By road it’s about a seven-and-a-half-mile trip, but over the torrs it was at least ten. By the time we reached the sweeping sands of the Bay, we were all ready for a dip in the ocean. The older kids loved this beach, dashing into the waves and body surfing.
I found it boring as it was sand, sun and wind. Being a redhead, I was soon miserable with sun and wind burn! But afternoon tea with lovely little cakes and the bus ride back to Ilfracombe made up for it. Plus, a lovely hot meal at the B&B. Sleep was no issue that night!

Smuggler's Farm

Another adventure during our stay at Ilfracombe took us north along country lanes barely wide enough for a car to traverse. The whole countryside was filled with history, mystery and skullduggery. One farm in particular drew my attention. It lay in a valley just below the cliffs that lined the sea. The cliffs were honeycombed with caves and tunnels which in the old days were used by the smugglers and the local people who would lure ships onto the rocks below.
This farm was haunted by the farmer’s wife. She had gone aboard a ship, her destination I don’t remember. But a storm blew up and the ship was lured onto those very rocks. The farmer discovered his wife’s body washed ashore and took her through the tunnels to the farm where she died. Because everyone knew she had left, he could not bury her in the church yard, so he put her in a small room and boarded it up. Years later, when the window tax was established, the tax collectors came to count his windows. One astute fellow noticed that the inner wall did not match up with the outer wall and went to investigate, assuming the farmer was trying to hide a window. The terrible secret was revealed.
Was the farmer punished? I don’t know. As a child it made little difference to me. But I found the story intriguing and often dreamed about it.
Smugglers Farm
Although this is not the farm, it reminds me very much of the house. It was white and had a garden where teas were served. This farm is reportedly the one that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book Hounds of the Baskerville’s.- Image borrowed from Tatler


Holidays in England meant stopping in London at the Foreign Missions Club,Aberdeen Park, London N5. It was a boarding house for missionaries and bible college students. It was made up of four or five connected houses each three to four stories high with full basements. Hours of exploration and skullduggery!
Foreign Missions Club

Front View

Foreign Missions Club

The gardens and back of the building

London meant long rides on double decker busses, the Underground and in taxis. So much to see and wonder about! Kew Gardens, and Hyde Park, museums and the zoo.
Kew's Palm House
Kew Gardens, The Palm House
London also meant visiting with cousins. My favorite times were when we went to see Granny and I got to play with Christine if she was home from school.

Uncle Derek's Farm

I loved visiting Uncle Derek’s farm near Weston-Super-Mere and Cheddar Gorge, Gloucestershire.
he farm was so old that it was listed in the Doomsday Book. And the road that passed the lane was an old cobbled Roman road which had been paved as far as the lane. The cobbled road continued over the hills and once went all the way down to Weston-Super-Mare. Now I know that it was one of the roads that connected London to all parts of England, Scotland and Wales.
(These aren't the actual pictures of the farm, but are very similar to how I remember it.) Farmhouse
The house was built of fieldstone at least a foot thick. The best room was the kitchen which had a massive fireplace with a back boiler behind it used in the heating system as well as the faucets.

Uncle Derek's Farmyard
The dairy barn was also built of fieldstone but had been updated with concrete floors and modern milking machines. The hay loft was a wonderful playhouse on rainy days.

I remember the farm in perpetual spring when yellow primroses flocked the roadsides and bluebells carpeted the forests. Skylarks sang from high above and Cuckoo’s called mournfully from the treetops. I discovered a cavity in a hedgerow just big enough for a little room and spent many hours there, collecting things that interested me and making up adventures of all sorts.


Holidays in England meant getting to stay at a bakery in Milborne Port, watch the bakers and ride in the delivery truck – let alone indulge!
(This may be where the bakery was. The building and gate and yard behind look about how I remember it. The bakery was on the left with racks of baked goods in the windows.)